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Overcharged by your mobile network? Here’s what to do next

Being overcharged by your mobile phone company can happen from time to time. If you notice some unexpected charges on your phone bill, you may need to investigate. With a few steps, you can understand what’s happened and get your money back.

woman angry phone bill

Step 1: Check your phone bill and identify any mistakes

The first step to avoiding being overcharged on your mobile phone bill is to always check your bill every month. You can check your paper phone bill or check online or via the app. Look for any charges that you are not expecting.

Bear in mind that some phone charges may be legitimate but unexpected.

Examples include:

  • Films and games you have purchased via your phone
  • Picture messages (if these are not included in your plan)
  • Charity donations
  • Calls to premium rate numbers
  • Entering competitions
  • Using your phone abroad
  • Making phone calls to other countries

There is also the possibility that a family member may have used your phone without your knowledge.

Step 2: Find out what you have been overcharged for

Once you have discovered the mobile phone overcharge on your bill, you can identify what the charge relates to.


How do I identify an overcharge?

Firstly, review your phone bill and cross-check against the data, minutes and texts on your contract. If there are any items you do not recognise, note down the title of the charge and the date and time.


Have you been overcharged on your first bill?

Being overcharged on your first mobile phone bill of a new contract is something that does happen from time to time. However, it may be that you have costs from a partial month and a full month, or the upfront cost of a new handset. It’s always worth checking with your provider, and remember you have 14 days’ cooling off period if you signed up online.


Have you been overcharged at the end of your contract?

Likewise, being overcharged on a final bill is also fairly common. If you have recently changed contract and you think you have been overcharged on your final bill, you can contact your provider for a refund.

Some people decide to move to a SIM only plan at the end of their initial contract.

Step 3: Contact your mobile network provider

Once you have found the overcharge on your bill and worked out what it relates to, it’s time to get in touch with your mobile network provider. Make sure you have the details to hand as well as your customer number. This will speed up the process.


How do I complain to my provider?

For each mobile network provider, there is a slightly different way to complain about being overcharged:


EE overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by EE, you can call 150 from your EE phone or 079 5396 6250 from any other phone.


Three overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by Three, you can call 33 from your Three phone or 033 3338 1001 from any other phone.


Vodafone overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by Vodafone, you can call 191 from your Vodafone phone or 033 3304 0191 from any other phone.


O2 overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by O2, you can call 202 from your O2 phone or 034 4809 0222 from any other phone.


giffGaff overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by giffgaff, you can contact them via the giffgaff website - there is no customer service phone number.


Virgin Mobile overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by Virgin Mobile, you can call 789 from your Virgin phone or 034 5600 0789 from any other phone.


BT Mobile overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by BT Mobile, you can call 150 from your BT Mobile phone or 0800 800 150 from any other phone.


ID Mobile overcharging

If you think you have been overcharged by ID Mobile, you can call 7777 from your ID Mobile phone or 033 3003 7777 from any other phone.


Can I contact my provider by post?

If you cannot contact your provider online, you may wish to contact them by post.

To do this:

  1. Write a letter explaining why you think you have been overcharged.
  2. Include a copy of your phone bill.
  3. Include your details - name, customer number, address and phone number.
  4. Send the letter to your provider, ideally using recorded delivery.

What happens if I have any issues with my complaint?

If you have complained to your provider about being overcharged and had your complaint rejected, you may decide to escalate.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes are one option if you have been unsuccessful with complaining to your provider. This independent third-party option is an alternative to taking your dispute to the courts.

All mobile networks are required to belong to one of two Ofcom-regulated ADRs:

Your provider should give you details of the ADR they belong to and whether they are happy to use them to resolve the issue. Make sure you keep all correspondence between you and your provider so you can use this to make your case.

If your provider is not being proactive, you are welcome to ask for a ‘deadlock letter’ or contact their ADR yourself after 8 weeks have passed. If you’re not sure which scheme they belong to, you can check using the Ofcom ADR checker.

In terms of timeframes, CISAS says the process usually takes 6-8 weeks.

Although Ofcom cannot help with individual disputes regarding mobile phone overcharging, you can also tell them what has happened. This will help them build a picture of common problems with different providers.

How can I prevent overcharging when abroad?

If you regularly travel abroad, you need to be aware of roaming charges. Over the last few years, most providers have reintroduced roaming fees for using your phone on holiday. To avoid these, you should consider paying for an add-on - or extra data - before you travel. Most providers offer options for EU and international travel.

Another option is to switch to a provider that doesn’t have roaming fees, so you can use your data, minutes and texts from your plan as if you were at home. If you’re mid-contract or otherwise happy with your provider, you could consider getting a travel eSIM to help keep phone costs down while you are abroad.

Find out more about roaming charges

Avoiding overcharging

To avoid mobile phone companies overcharging you in the future, there are a number of steps you can take:

  • Ask your provider to set a monthly price cap. You may be able to do this online or in the app.
  • Plan ahead when going abroad to avoid roaming charges.
  • Consider changing provider when your contract is next up for renewal.
  • Always check your bill as soon as it comes in.
  • Pay your bill on time to avoid late charges - set up a direct debit if you haven’t already.
  • Set a code on your phone so family members cannot make surprise purchases.

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